Your Guide To Life With High-Functioning Anxiety

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Living with high-functioning anxiety can be more challenging than people without it may realize. While people with high-functioning anxiety might seem like they're thriving in the world around them, anxious feelings can affect those people internally. "It's pretty much the symptoms of what anxiety disorder is but what is internal ... Some folks might feel fatigued or even energized, some overly energized ... They're experiencing the anxiety symptoms but it's usually not visible," Monique Castro, an LMFT and founder and CEO of Indigenous Circle of Wellness, told POPSUGAR.


High-functioning anxiety is more than just the occasional butterflies in your stomach before a big presentation at work or slight feelings of stress when crucial plans change at the last minute. However, if you always overthink or second guess yourself, feel extremely scared of not succeeding, have trouble sleeping, or constantly feel concerned, you likely have high-functioning anxiety (via Rose Hill). You shouldn't be ashamed of your high-functioning anxiety, as it's nothing embarrassing. But if you want to feel better throughout your days, we have some tips to help you improve your life with high-functioning anxiety.

Try sticking to a routine

Movies and TV shows put a lot of pressure on people to be carefree and spontaneous, as the characters who prefer sticking to an original plan often seem ultra-serious or rigid. But in reality, trying to force yourself to be super "spontaneous" when you have high-functioning anxiety won't help you feel better. The truth is, there's nothing wrong with making plans and sticking to them, and having a daily or weekly routine can be helpful for people with anxiety.


"Modern life, increasingly defined by unpredictability, can be anxiety-provoking, and routines provide an anchor of predictability," Marty Nemko, a career coach/writer, told Headspace. According to Hackensack Meridian Health, routines can help you feel structured throughout your day instead of scattered, provide a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, maintain good hygiene, and keep you putting effort into your appearance.

An example of a solid routine is consistently getting up when your alarm sounds at 7 a.m., followed by brushing your teeth, doing your makeup, getting dressed, commuting to work, working, going to the gym after work, then showering, eating dinner, reading, and finally going to bed at 11 p.m. Having all these tasks outlined ahead of time will avoid confusion or frustration that can make you extra anxious.


Explore creative outlets

Participating in artistic activities can help you express or relieve some of the anxious feelings in your head. "The creative process promotes new perspectives that lie beyond the structure of language. Art uses metaphor, symbolism, and dynamic thoughts to represent the human experience in a way language cannot," Kelly Lynch, a mental health counselor/art therapist, told Healthline. So, next time you feel overwhelmed by your anxious thoughts, try expressing them through a drawing, escaping reality by creating an abstract painting, or coloring to help yourself wind down and relax.


Writing is another excellent way to express and let go of anxiety; for some people, writing comes easier than speaking. Journaling at least a few days each week can help you lessen your anxiety, leading to improvement in your mental health (via WebMD). Writing in your private journal or diary provides you the chance to let your emotions out on paper instead of keeping them bottled up in your mind, so why not give journaling a try? Or, if you have a vivid imagination, you should try creative writing because writing fiction is a fun escape that can help you release some of your anxiety.

Meditate for relaxation and get an anxiety ring

Meditating is an excellent way to prevent your anxious thoughts from getting worse — meditation is also beneficial for helping you feel calmer. "People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power. They can't distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit ... Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, 'Oh, there's that thought again. I've been here before. But it's just that — a thought, and not a part of my core self,'" Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist, told Daneen Natural Health. There are many helpful apps for mindfulness and meditation to benefit people with high-functioning anxiety, such as Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer. You can additionally find many meditation options online by searching "meditation for anxiety" on YouTube.


While meditation is super helpful for anxiety, we know that anxious thoughts and feelings can occur at any time, and it isn't practical to meditate in every situation or setting, such as when you start feeling anxious at work. For moments like those, we recommend using an anxiety ring. Many people flaunt these rings on TikTok, as you can spin them around on your finger to help with anxious tendencies, per TikTok. You can find many rings for anxiety on Amazon, such as the Helicopchain 4-9Pcs Stainless Steel Anxiety Rings.

Consider talking to a therapist

In today's world, more and more people are starting to understand that therapy is a helpful tool and resource. Therapy is beneficial for people with anxiety, whether they have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or high-functioning anxiety. Two types of therapy that are helpful for people with high-functioning anxiety include cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. "Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps address negative thoughts and core beliefs that get in the way of managing anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps recognize anxious thoughts and works towards changing these thoughts to more positive ones... [Dialectical behavioral therapy] helps address feelings and thoughts that are related to anxiety and teaches skills to help manage them," Bisma Anwar, MA, MSc, LMHC, a Talkspace therapist, told Talkspace.


Being in therapy is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of, so if you believe therapy can help you, don't let fear of judgment hold you back from getting help. Even many celebrities are in therapy, such as the supermodel Kendall Jenner, who got honest about her struggles with anxiety with Dr. Ramani, a licensed clinical psychologist, in a video for Vogue, per YouTube. So, if the ultra-famous Kendall Jenner isn't embarrassed about talking to a therapist, you shouldn't be ashamed.

If all else fails, talk to your doctor about medication

Before considering medication, you should try every suggestion from this article and give yourself some time to see if your mental health improves (unless your doctor recommends otherwise). However, if you feel like your high-functioning anxiety hasn't lessened at all, medication can be a helpful last resort. Of course, you'll need to talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about the possibility of medication — never seek out medicine from drug dealers or on your own without talking to a medical professional.


Many people with anxiety disorders take medication, and sometimes people with high-functioning anxiety get the same treatment (via Forbes). One medication that your doctor may prescribe for you is Lexapro, a drug for anxiety and depression that you consistently take orally once every day or night. According to WebMD, you'll likely start with a small dosage to see how you react to the medication, and your doctor might eventually prescribe you a higher dosage. Plus, it can take at least a week for the Lexapro to kick in, so you must be patient; always communicate any questions or concerns with your medical professional. Like most other medications, Lexapro has side effects but can still be very beneficial.


High-functioning anxiety can make every day seem stressful, but you're not alone, and following these tips can help you feel better as you live your life.